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Children's Fiction City & Town Life

Shu-Li and Tamara

by (author) Paul Yee

illustrated by Shaoli Wang

Tradewind Books
Initial publish date
Apr 2008
City & Town Life, Beginner, Emotions & Feelings
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2008
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 6 to 8
  • Grade: 1 to 3
  • Reading age: 6 to 8


This contemporary story of the true friendship between two girls is set in Vancouver’s Commercial Drive neighborhood. Shu-Li’s parents run a local Chinese deli and much of the story revolves around food. There is a helpful compendium of recipes at the end of the book for kids to try out. Beautifully illustrated throughout with line drawings.

About the authors

Paul Yee is one of Canada's finest writers for children. He was raised in Vancouver and has worked in the archives at the Vancouver Museum. He won the Governor General's Literary Award for Children's Literature for Ghost Train. He now lives in Toronto.
Ghost Trainbr>    Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award 1996br>    Winner of the Ruth Schwartz Children's Book Award 1997br>    Finalist for the Toronto IODE Book Award 1997
The Bone Collector's Sonbr>    Winner of the City of Vancouver Book Award 2004br>    Finalist for the Rocky Mountain Book Award 2006br>    Finalist for the Stellar Book Award (BC Teen Readers' Choice Award) 2005-6br>    Chosen as Best of 2004, Resource
Bamboobr>    Finalist for the Chocolate Lily Award 2007 (BC Readers' Choice Award)br>    Chosen as Best of 2006, Resource Links
The Jade Necklacebr>    Finalist for the Mr. Christie's Book Award 2002

Paul Yee's profile page

Shaoli Wang was born in China. She trained as an art teacher and graduated from the Department of Fines Arts of Qingdao Normal College, specializing in children’s book illustration, gouache and oil painting. She now lives in BC.


Shaoli Wang's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“This friendship book has an amiable tone, readable dialogue, and a believable plot.”

School Library Journal

“This sturdy paperback is an attractive choice for children starting to read chapter books.”


Librarian Reviews

Shu-Li and Tamara

Shu-Li’s family moved to Canada two years ago. They now run a Chinese deli on Vancouver’s Commercial Drive. Her classmate, Tamara, recently moved into the neighbourhood.An ugly rumour threatens the girls' relationship.

Themes of friendship, diversity, family, respect, and community building are found in this short chapter book. Students will be drawn to the stories of the fourth-graders from diverse backgrounds (and the recipes included at the end of the book). Teachers can read aloud this story, and explore the themes with their students.

Source: Association of Canadian Publishers. Top Grade Selection 2016.

Shu-Li and Tamara

Set on Commercial Drive in Vancouver, this beginning chapter book is the story of Shu-Li, whose family came from China two years ago, and how she overcomes her shyness to make friends. When Tamara, another newcomer, is accused of stealing, Shu-Li stands up for her. Together the girls plan to earn money selling goodies for the Kids Helping Kids program but no one comes to their stall until Joey agrees to do his break dancing routine to get people’s attention. When more money seems to be missing, Tamara is accused again. In the end, Tamara is vindicated and the story concludes with recipes for the treats the girls made. The book is liberally illustrated with black and white sketches.

Paul Yee has won many awards including the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. BC Books for BC Schools. 2008-2009.

Shu-Li and Tamara

The books reviewed above can be enjoyed on their own, although each is part of a series. Shu-Li and Tamara is a new stand-alone chapter book by Paul Yee. Yee, who has chronicled the early Chinese immigrant experience so vividly, has recently focused on new Asian immigrants — in his collection of short stories about Asian teens in Canada, What Happened This Summer (also published by Tradewind Books) — and now in this welcome chapter book for younger readers. Fourth-graders Shu-Li and redhead Tamara are both newcomers to their school and to Vancouver’s vibrant Commercial Drive neighbourhood. Shu-Li watches the colourful activity of the Drive from behind the counter of her parents’ Yum Yum deli, longing to be part of the action outside. Shaoli Wang, who collaborated with Yee on the picture book Bamboo, captures Shu-Li’s experience by revealing the deli from her perspective. A generous helping of Wang’s charming black-and-white line drawings enlivens the text and makes the story accessible for beginning readers. Her amusing class photos which wrap up the book reflect the multicultural flavour of this Vancouver classroom.

Shu-Li struggles to fit in and blend her Chinese and North American cultures. She is both embarrassed by her mother’s English and fiercely loyal to her when the cool girls from school laugh at her attempts. Though she respects her parents’ authority, she wishes to be more independent. Though her teacher encourages participation, she is reluctant to speak up in class unless she has the right answer.

But ultimately this is a story of loyalty and friendship that all children can relate to. Shu-Li and Tamara’s friendship deepens as both explore their new neighbourhood and work together baking cookies for a school fair to raise money for Kids Helping Kids. Shu-Li discounts the rumour that Tamara has been stealing to obtain spending money. Even when money is missing from the bake sale and Tamara is falsely accused of stealing, Shu-Li sticks by her until the truth is revealed. This appealingly packaged chapter book provides recipes for the mouth-watering cookies so parents should be prepared to hit the kitchen.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Winter 2008. Vol.31 No.1.

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Other titles by Shaoli Wang

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